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Stay Fluent: 5 Ways to Maintain the Language Skills you Gained Abroad

Guest Blogger: Jenny Aguayo   Program Assistant at the Study Abroad Office, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

After an incredible experience studying in a foreign country, you’re sure to have picked up the local language to some extent. Whether gaining language skills was one of your goals for your study abroad experience or not, don’t let those skills disappear once you’ve returned! Here are some EASY ways to maintain fluency in your target language!

1. Listen to International Music

Music is a worldwide passion. Thanks to the internet, you have access to music in just about any language in the world. Listen to music from your study abroad host country to keep in touch with the culture, read off the lyrics with some friends on a Karaoke Night, or listen to songs in your target language on your way to class!


2. Watch Foreign Movies/TV Shows

With subtitles or without, challenge yourself to enjoy a foreign film. Check your local events to see if there is a foreign film festival coming to town soon, or stream a translated version of your favorite movie. Netflix has a great foreign film selection, but you can also check the library for free rentals! Check out a projector from the Undergraduate Library and host a movie night with your friends!


3. Read!

It doesn’t have to be a grammar book, but reading is a great way to maintain your language skills. Depending on your fluency, you can choose to opt for children’s books, bilingual books, or novels written by a famous foreign author. Another great tip is to read your favorite book translated into your target language! This way, you know the story well enough to enjoy the book and can focus more on the language. The foreign reading opportunities are endless! You can also try online newspapers or magazines from a foreign country- also a great way to stay in touch with the culture and global happenings!


4. Talk to People .. at Cultural Events!

Start a chat group or make friends fluent in your target language! A great source for this is any cultural Registered Student Organization on campus; these student groups often love to share their culture and would be more than happy to practice the language with you. You can also attend social events at the cultural houses and meet diverse groups of people.


5. Social Media

If you don’t have too much extra time to attend as many cultural events as you’d like, you can also find chat groups online for language learning. WeSpeke is a site made for people around to world to connect for the purpose to learning, practicing, or maintaining their language skills! Connect with a buddy, or talk to someone new each time. And yes, there’s an app for that.


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